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Excuse Plot

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Leader of the free world kidnapped? Who cares! Your badness has been questioned.
"Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it’s not that important."

Some games have epic, sweeping plots that could easily have been made into an action Miniseries instead of a game. Others just seem to have a plot because people feel a little silly doing things for no reason, even if the real reason they're playing is because it's fun.

An Excuse Plot is, in the simplest terms, a plot that is clearly there merely as a justification for the gameplay, or other form of flashy, show-offy-ness, to happen. In short, the story serves the needs of the gameplay, nothing more. It makes no pretense of intrinsic value, but simply provides some banter so you understand why the purple and non-purple units are shooting at each other.

A potential disadvantage of including a half-assed plot (as opposed to no plot at all) is that it can make the game seem unfinished, poorly thought-out, or childish. However, many developers either do not think about these risks or consider the structure and context an Excuse Plot provides to be worth it.


An Excuse Plot is not necessarily a poorly written, minimalistic, or stupid storyline, only one that has been written to obviously showcase something else. These are typically featured in games for children such as Super Mario Bros. (though there are exceptions in that series, such as the RPG spinoffs), as a complex storyline would not be something that children would understand. Beware of the Anthropic Principle.

If you want to know how to write your own excuse plot, we've got you covered.

A Super Trope to:

A Sister Trope to No Plot? No Problem! (not even bothering with plot at all).


Contrast Play the Game, Skip the Story (the plot is deep, but the players see it as an excuse).


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    Anime & Manga 

    Board Games 
  • The Cheapass Games board game Devil Bunny Needs A Ham has a story, which, in all seriousness, goes as follows: "You and your friends are living pleasant and full lives in Happyville. You are highly trained and well-paid sous-chefs, who have decided to climb to the top of a tall building, as fast as you can. Devil Bunny needs a ham. And he's pretty sure that knocking you off the building will help him get one. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps he is not."
  • The Excuse Plot for Fight City is about as short as you're going to get. "It's a city, and they fight."
  • Steam Tunnel couldn't even stay interested enough to finish its excuse: "In the year 2185, in the steam-driven titanium mine deep under the surface of Io... oh, who are we kidding. Steam Tunnel is a great game with no particular basis in reality."
  • Clue's plot is essentially - "Mister Boddy (or Dr Black) is dead. Find out whodunnit." There is no explanation of who Mister Boddy (or even Dr Black) is, why would anyone want to kill him, or who the guests are and why they're at the mansion. Various other ports DO list motives, but they're all contradictory (and none of them tell us who he is).
  • Candyland has a backstory about the King being kidnapped by Lord Licorice and only two children from our world being able to find him, with gingerbread men (the playing pieces) acting as guides. Even as a child, did any of this matter when you were actually playing the game? No.

    Comic Books 
  • Civil War, according to Word of God from Mark Millar. He just really wanted to write a story about people who were typically on the same side beating the tar out of each other, and the Super Registration Act was just a convenient backdrop he came up with to allow this to happen. Any and all political subtext was completely unintentional.
    • The sequel, Civil War II, had an even more transparent excuse plot. Organized so that Marvel could crowd comic store shelves with new books that said "Civil War" on the cover just as the MCU version of the original hit theaters, the event used unbelievably flimsy justifications to turn hero against hero yet again. The arbitrariness of the entire conflict was one major reason (albeit not the only one) that fans reviled it.
  • Red Ears: In this pornographic comic book series every plot is just an excuse to showcase sex scenes.
  • Similarly, every story in Wally Wood's Sally Forth was an excuse to feature sexy naked women to entertain the US servicemen reading them.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: The comics usually have extremely thin plots that just function to place the characters in random settings or situations, and then let slapstick ensue. Usually Mortadelo and Filemón's investigations do not advance one iota over the course of one story until the very ending, and often another agent will solve the case, or it turns out there was no case to solve at all.
  • The French gag series Les Astromômes begins with Quentin getting his friend Rodrigue's sister Lise to notice him, by claiming that he's interested in astronomy like she is. The antics that ensue from this initial premise are essentially a framing device used to teach the readers about various astronomy facts.
  • A rather unfortunate use of Rape by Proxy was used as an excuse for the New 52 Red Robin and Wonder Girl to start a relationship when the New 52 Teen Titans author revealed that evidently Tim, Cassie and Kiran enjoyed being raped by Trigon when he was possessing Tim. Note that prior to Flashpoint Tim turned down sex with his various girlfriends on multiple occasions and was canonically a virgin due to his complete non desire for casual or emotionally compromised sex, wanting to be in a very serious and committed relationship before even considering it.

    Fan Works 
  • The author of Origin Story has admitted that he wrote this story primarily because he “wanted to give Tony Stark a punch in the mouth” after reading Marvel's Civil War story.
  • This trope spawned a meme in the Touhou fandom when when a doujin manga brought to attention the fact that the plot of nearly any and all fanworks could be summed up as variations of four Fandom Specific Justifications:
    • Magic: Magic in Touhou is not particularily well defined, so it can be used to justify anything that needs to be justified.
    • Eirin's shady new drug: Eirin is able to make unusual medicines of dubious pharmaceutical benefit and with nearly any bizarre effect imaginable. Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, generally considered canon, uses this explanation.
    • Yukari is fooling around again: Yukari is extremely powerful, extremely lazy, and extremely capricious; the plots just write themselves.
    • It's a Moriya Shrine conspiracy: After their introduction in Mountain of Faith, the next three "main" games in the series (Subterranean Animism, Unidentified Fantastic Object, and Ten Desires) were either directly or indirectly caused by the Moriya trio's attempts to gather more faith from the population of Gensoukyou. Suffice to say, fanon took it and ran with it.
    • Templates like that are forbidden: In the doujin manga where the above list appeared in, Marisa says this in response to the above possible explanations behind the doujin's own plot. In more comedic stories, this has occasionally been used as an actual excuse for the plot.
  • According to the author of Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, he wrote the story with the sole intent of having Megas fight against Suika Ibuki. In a twist on the above justifications, Megas's placement in Gensokyo was the fault of the Watatsuki sisters; Yukari's involvement was accidental at best.
  • All three stories in The Rival Prefects Trilogy have plots that are arguably just excuses for the characters to get naked and/or engage in sexual activity. Also, the second and third installments were written in part because the author enjoys stories where characters are turned into statues... and aren't turned back.
  • The entirety of Skyhold Academy Yearbook was basically created to give its authors the opportunity to do ridiculous things with Dragon Age characters that could not logically happen in the game's actual setting, such as riding motorcycles and watching Disney movies.

    Film — Animated 
  • Surprisingly, despite his acclaim as a master storyteller and his legendary reputation for having anal-retentive attention to detail in his films, Walt Disney firmly believed in using the Excuse Plot in both his short cartoons and feature films, from as early as his Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons up to the end of his life with The Jungle Book. To him, gags based on character motivation and context and entertainment were what really mattered. Two of his top animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, verify this early in their book "Too Funny For Words: Disney's Greatest Sight Gags";
    "At that time, however, even the distributors were questioning whether gags were enough to sustain a whole film and they started asking for more story. Walt, the greatest of storytellers, reacted in a surprising way. 'By the time you have a story really started,' he said, 'it is time to iris out (end the picture), and you have failed to make the audience laugh.' Obviously, in Walt's mind, the first priority in any film was the laughter, and too much story quickly became tedious. He never forgot that point throughout his whole life, constantly shying away from projects that had more continuity than entertainment."
  • Disney's The Jungle Book is acclaimed as a legitimate animated feature classic, even though its plot is a wafer thin, In Name Only adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's story. Walt Disney specifically told the story artists to not read or follow the book, and even chewed them out when they had concerns over the simplistic story, saying the characters and entertainment were more important. Animator and story artist Floyd Norman, who worked on the film, summed it up on his blog:
    "With Pixar's string of successful movies it became popular among animation buffs to quote the familiar mantra, story, story, story. But, I remember it was no less than Walt Disney himself who chewed us out back during the development of 'The Jungle Book.' Because we thought we had legitimate concerns about the films' simple plot line. Well, we caught the wrath of the Old Maestro head on. 'You guys worry too much about the story,' Walt shouted. 'Just give me some good stuff.' And, what was that good stuff Walt Disney was talking about, you ask? Fun, humor, entertainment. In a word, Walt was speaking of gags. 'The Jungle Book' didn't need a more involved story line because we already had great characters to work with. Let the humor come out of the situation, the characters, and the story will take care of itself."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Georges Méliès, being a magician interested in illusions, was really more interested creating a visual spectacle. The "plot" of films such as his famous A Trip to the Moon mainly served to provide a context for his then-revolutionary special effects.
  • The Warner Bros. Gold Diggers movies, such as Gold Diggers of 1933, had wafer thin plots that were always just setups for the fantastic and elaborate musical numbers and gorgeous dancers that make up the bulk of the films. The back of the DVD case of Gold Diggers of 1937 even hangs a lampshade on this, trying earnestly to summarize the plot at first, only to give up halfway through and say "Well, who watches any Diggers for its plot?"
  • Commando. Not unexpected being that it's part of the Arnold Schwarzenegger oeuvre, but a particularly notable example — the movie doesn't even pretend it's going to have anything to do with the whole "kill the Prime Minister / President / whatever of Val Verde to get your daughter back" stuff. This has the rather amusing result that pretty much every scene with Arius before the climax basically involves him sitting around waiting for Matrix to show up and kill him even if he doesn't realize it.
  • Into the Blue has a plot (if you can call it that) that's basically an excuse to look at Jessica Alba/Paul Walker/Ashley Scott/Scott Caan (delete according to taste) wearing as little as humanly possible.
  • Eurotrip involves the protagonist sending a drunken email and being unable to apologize because the recipient blocks his email address. Conveniently forgetting about the dozens of other ways to get in touch with someone, he sets off to Europe to apologize in person. Hilarity Ensues. A large portion of the film consists of sketches that would work just as well on their own and out of context, so the overarching plot being rather thin is not a real problem.
  • Ju-Rei has no beginning, middle, or end; it's just a progression of loosely-linked suspense sequences based around the same completely unexplained ghostly curse.
  • Mercenaries has four Boxed Crook women being offered pardons if they can rescue the president's daughter from a man-hating warlord. That's really all you need to know.
  • Pacific Rim is little more than an excuse to watch giant robots fighting giant monsters, and makes precisely zero apologies for it.
    Guillermo del Toro: It is my duty to commit to film the finest fucking monsters ever committed to screen and it is my duty to create the greatest fucking robots ever committed to screen.
    • Though judging by Del Toro's statements as for what he'd wish to achieve with in the future of the franchise about not wanting later entries to be "the exact same but bigger", it looks like the eventual sequel (being called by the working title Maelstrom) would be a subversion of this trope with Pacific Rim being the "establishing piece" for the setting and basic backstory of the Pacific Rim-verse with Maelstrom and potential later entries fleshing it out.
    • Though its also worth noting that even then, it does also contain plenty of subtle themes from Del Toro's prior films (Hellboy and The Devil's Backbone) as can be noted here.
  • What rudimentary plot the first half of Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) has just serves as an excuse for the second half, the epic 42-minute car chase that was the very reason why the film was made in the first place.
  • Pixels are pretty much a tribute to 80's video games and as such doesn't have much going for it when it comes to the plot.
    • It's long been theorized that the only reason Adam Sandler still makes movies is so that he and his friends can hang out in nice locales and have the studios pay for it. He's even admitted that he chooses what films he wants to make based on where he wants to go on vacation.
  • There's no particular reason for Billy and Abby to pretend that they're brother and sister in Days of Heaven—they could just as well say that they are married. No particular reason, that is, except for the plot, in which a good-hearted farmer falls in love with Abby and takes them both in to his home under the impression that Billy is Abby's brother.
  • John Wick has a plot that essentially amounts to "Retired assassin's wife gets him a dog and dies, members of the mafia kill it, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge." The film does take it surprisingly seriously for something so ridiculous, including him going on a rant about how the dog was something to share his grief with. It works better than it should, but ultimately it's still just an excuse for Keanu Reeves to go and murder everyone.
    • However, if you consider that the dog was a gift from John's Lost Lenore and thus his only living memory of her and his last hope of having a normal life, but the son of a mafia boss and his goons just killed it for pitiful reasons, thus incurring the wrath of John (who had nothing to lose at that point), then it's a deconstruction and/or a subversion of an excuse plot.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail is effectively a series of skits. There's a plot stringing them together, but it's not particularly important.
  • In-Universe, the Jumanji video game (a Show Within a Show) in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle provides a standard example — the Big Bad has captured the MacGuffin! — as the game is meant to replicate those of the 80's and 90's. The movie itself as has a fuller plot.
  • In most Ray Harryhausen films, the plot only exists to put the fabulous stop motion monster scenes in some sort of order
  • Film/Mamma Mia! from 2008 is this trope. The plot, which is about as memorable as brushing your teeth, is patently there as an excuse for singing Abba songs. More like a video album but not made by the band than like a normal movie. Not that the audience complained: the story was as cute as a litter of newborn puppies, and Abba songs are great. There's a sequel, presumably with a similar plot and more Abba songs.

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: The plot of the novel revolves around Christopher trying to find out who killed the dog Wellington. However, the only plot developments come in the first and last few chapters; most of the book consists of The Catcher in the Rye-esque ramblings and detailed descriptions of mundane, unrelated events.
  • Moby-Dick is nominally about Ahab's quest to hunt the titular whale. However, most of the book focuses less on the actual plot and more on detailed explorations of the history, science, and philosophy relating to whaling, much of which is also used as metaphorical commentary on human society.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In earlier seasons of The Red Green Show, there was generally an over-reaching plot that they tried to work into every segment of the show in some manner or another. In latter seasons, this practice was dropped, with the main plot of the episode only appearing in a few segments and otherwise being kept out of the recurring sketches like "North of 40" or "Handyman Corner." One of the most notable instances was the "No Duct Tape" episode, in which Red was still seen using duct tape in such segments, even though the plot of the episode was that Possum Lodge had run out of duct tape.
  • The Channel 4 hidden camera series Bad Robots has an excuse plot at the beginning explaining that the malfunctioning electronics in the pranks were created by a robot who gained sentience to punish humans for mistreating their electrical appliances. No story progression after that.
  • Into the Badlands: The whole Post-Apocalyptic Feudal Future with No Guns Allowed is really just an excuse to have a Western Wuxia series.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a setup involving a guy getting sent into space and being used as a guinea pig in a space station with some robots where they watch bad movies in an effort to drive him insane that's really just an excuse to have a guy and two puppets riff on bad movies. Any Fridge Logic regarding the setup or the science behind the concept is actively discouraged.

  • Atari's Hercules, which was an excuse to build a REALLY BIG pinball machine.
  • Pro Pinball: The Web has a motorcycle rider who has to stop a woman out to Take Over the World with an army of spiders. You do this by racing bikes, stopping a shuttle, raiding skyscrapers, and other odd tasks... don't ask, just go with it.
  • Averted with Doctor Who, which has a very detailed (relative to most pinball games) plot involving The Master and Davros teaming up to use a "Time Expander" to destroy all incarnations of The Doctor. Unfortunately, much of it was All There in the Manual, which made it very difficult for casual players to learn the game.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is rather egregious in this regard - it all boils down to "rescue April".
  • Flash is ostensibly about a Thunder God throwing lightning bolts, which is all an excuse to show off the table's (then-new) flash lamps.
    • Similarly, Firepower is about three spaceships attacking an alien warworld, which is an excuse for its multiball feature (the first solid state pinball game to feature one).
  • Crüe Ball never explains what the relationship is between playing pinball and playing loud Heavy Metal music.
  • In Necronomicon, studying a Tome of Eldritch Lore is done by... playing pinball?
  • Time Cruise has a backstory about a young inventor who is instructed by telepathic extraterrestrials on how to build a Time Machine. The game itself is a pinball game spread across several "buildings" (screens) with various minigames.
  • Similarly, Time Machine (Data East) uses time travel as an excuse for the game to use its old-fashioned electro-mechanical chimebox when the player reaches The '50s.
  • Flash Dragon doesn't even try to explain what dragons and photography have to do with each other.
  • Strange Science has a backstory about a Mad Scientist and his "Freaky Friday" Flip experiment, but the actual gameplay does little to build on the story.
  • Time Fantasy has... something to do with an anthropomorphic snail accumulating time while meditating in a psychedelic landscape of mushrooms and rainbows.
  • Embryon has the player incubate multicolored alien women from organic pods.
  • What does TX-Sector have to do with teleporters? Good luck figuring it out.
  • The entirety of Centaur's story is told to you in two words when you begin a game: "Destroy Centaur."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, most return-to-[world] sets are interested in creating an environment that feels right, even at the cost of retconning significant elements from earlier in the plot. Most notably, "Return to Ravnica" removed from continuity the dissolution of the Guilds because Ravnica was Guild World, and "Scars of Mirrodin" completely ignored the point that Mirrodin had been left uninhabited at the end of original Mirrodin block because all the inhabitants had gone back to their planes of origin.
  • There was a popular Planescape module called The Great Modron March where the event in the title begins decades before it is supposed to, and the PCs are supposed to help the modrons. They'll probably never learn just why the event is happening early, and there are a variety of hooks as to what motivation they have (like being hired as bodyguards by people interested in it) but Word of God admitted that the real reason the PCs are going to want to help the modrons is because it's just so cool. (And admittedly, it is.) Of course, the actual reason was somewhat serious, but it was part of a plot of a different module (which could be used as a sequel to this one if the PCs do find out. Primus, the ruler of the modrons, had been murdered, and his throne usurped by a "mysterious shadowy entity" who ordered the March early to search for something. The entity was actually Orcus in his guise as the undead demon Tenebrous, who was trying to find his Wand. Orcus' return became the main plot of the epic two-part module Dead Gods.
  • The plot of Battletech, feudal nobles in space fighting wars with Humongous Mecha, seems intended to create a situation to justify the use of mechs in warfare. But then the writers went into why they use mechs to conquer planets (instead of say, nukes), how they can conquer an entire planet with just a few mechs, and how the wars got started, plus the need to introduce new factions. And it all snowballed into a complete Expanded Universe.
  • The plot of Star Realms: You want a space empire, destroy the other player to do so.
  • The backstory for Gorkamorka mostly exists to facilitate the players' warbands driving around in the desert beating each other up.
  • Monsterpocalypse has a backstory and Character Alignment system that mostly exists to justify having giant robots slam Cthulhu through the Empire State Building while a Martian tripod steps on downtown Tokyo in order to more effectively fight a giant radioactive bug.

  • Pretty much all Cirque du Soleil shows use this. There's generally a plot, if you read the website or the program, but mostly they're simple excuses to put together a bunch of acrobatic acts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; they're really good acrobatic acts.

    Video Games 
  • In Bendy in Nightmare Run, Bendy and his friends get chased because Bendy causes trouble.
  • The first game in the Deadly Rooms of Death series is basically, a king's dungeon is full of monsters and he's paying you to kill them so his prisoners can receive their torture in a clean and safe environment. However, the second game takes the question of why the dungeon is full of puzzles built around the monsters, and turns the quest for the answer into a Kudzu Plot spanning two more sequels, a prequel, and several DLC level sets.
  • Warframe, in its early stages, was about you, a space ninja, going around and beating up an oppressive empire, a bunch of profit-worshiping merchants, and a plague of infested members from both other factions. As the game has updated and gone further into beta development, however, it has slowly started moving away from this trope and created a genuinely interesting story about the Tenno and Orokin, and the deadly consequences of both on the solar system.
  • Titanfall: Something about Earth and corporations - HEY! Robots!
  • Borderlands's plot can be best summed up as this: Something about a Vault - Cool! A revolver that shoots shotgun shells! And an SMG that lights people on fire! And - well, you get the idea. It's a common joke among the fandom that there is only plot in the first half hour and the last (when the Guardian Angel calls you up to remind you about that Vault thing). Word of God says that they started out wanting to do something at least somewhat serious and Fallout-like, but...
    • Thankfully completely averted for the sequel. Borderlands 2 has a deep and engaging plot, a strong cast of characters (including a villain you'll love to hate), and quite a bit of expansion on the few plot points from the first game.
  • Combat Arms: Virtually no plot is given, save for little blurbs on loading screens that mention why Team A and Team B are fighting.
  • Most games in the Harvest Moon series. The basic plot for these games boils down to this: Friend/Relative X has died and left Player Y with Farm Z. Now go farm on it and steal the village women. The Rune Factory spinoffs vary from this slightly, where the protagonists have Laser-Guided Amnesia... and therefore need to farm and kill goblins.
  • Battlefield:
    • In the second game, it is never stated why the war is taking place, although one map hints to it being about oil, but no info as to why the USA is fighting China too.
    • Battlefield 3's attempt at a serious plot is so generic and cliched that one wonders if the game is better served without a campaign at all. To elaborate: the villain is given no backstory or even a general motivation for why he wants World War III. The CIA believe that the Russians are going to nuke America for no reason other than they're Russian. Three Russians have full knowledge of a terrorist attack on French soil and yet tell nobody and mow down wave after wave of innocent French policemen to stop the terrorist attack. They fail anyway. The sequel reveals that war happened anyway, therefore making the whole game a "Shaggy Dog" Story. This might have been a fairly unique twist- how many video games end on a full-on Downer Ending with no Multiple Endings?- if anybody actually dwelled on this, as none of the characters from the third game turn up in the fourth bar three, all of whom die in the same level they're introduced in and never mention previous events. Oh, and there's something about a coup in Iran but it's never explained beyond one line.
  • Similarly, neither of the games in the Bad Company subseries offers even the slightest explanation for why the United States is at war with the Russian Federation (yes, Russian Federation, not Soviet Union, so communism can be ruled out), much less why the latter is projecting forces all over the Western Hemisphere in the second game.
  • Super Monkey Ball 2 fits this trope to a T, with a plot that that goes from exploding an island to making bananas tasting like curry.
  • An interesting example of a video game Excuse Plot that is not an excuse for the gameplay is the TimeSplitters series, where the time-travelling plot seems to be an excuse to make one giant super-pastiche of numerous story genres, such as western, horror, cyberpunk, and noir among many others.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • Unfinished Business is four bonus levels made with the original Tomb Raider engine. Since the designer had no resources to make cutscenes or a new artifact for Lara to find, or any means of telling a story in-game, the player just starts, plays the four levels, and then they just... end. Lara achieves nothing. It's still great fun though. The actual plot is All There in the Manual (or online, as the case is).
    • The later Gaiden Games Golden Mask and the Lost Artifact also apply, although they do try and integrate their story a little, and Lara is rewarded with the titular item.
    • While most of the other games at least have some plot behind the locations, even if it's very small, Tomb Raider III essentially uses this trope too, as, right until the last levels the plot is so slim it essentially amounts to "there are four artifacts located in four separate parts of the world; are you a bad enough gal to find them?"
    • Why is Lara breaking into the church of All Hallows and why does she need to find a bunch of secret, completely unrelated areas first?
  • In Bad Dudes, the premise of the game was that the US had recently been hit by a wave of ninja crime, and the White House was their latest target. (As the arcade version phrases it, "RAMPANT NINJA RELATED CRIME THESE DAYS... WHITE HOUSE IS NOT THE EXCEPTION...") This is only really referred to in the opening cutscenes, and the primary goal of the Player Character was simply to beat everyone up.
  • Smash TV's storyline about an kill-or-be-killed game show is largely an excuse to shoot things and rack up points. There are piles of cash and prizes to be won, and a grand prize (although you get that before facing the final challenge), but it's not clear how exactly these are many "year's supply of meat-s" does one man need, anyway?
  • The NES Mega Man games. Eventually, it became clear that Capcom was having difficulty coming up with new excuses for their latest Mission-Pack Sequel. To elaborate more, starting with Mega Man 4 the plot would almost always be a new villain trying to Take Over the World would show up, until it would just turn about to be Dr. Wily again. 5 and 6 both did the same exact plot, although 7 and 8 changed it up. 9 and 10 went straight back to the old "it's something else, but then it turns out to be Wily again" formula, where it seemed to openly embrace the idea and played the "twist" for laughs. Fan games followed suit by either doing likewise, changing it up a little, reversing it outright or not having Wily present at all.
  • Punch Quest: One day, Punchzerker was sleeping on a hammock between two trees, when an apple fell on his head, and he was knocked to the ground. Looking about, he saw an orc smelling flowers. "No one punches me!" said Punchzerker, racing forward determinedly. Meanwhile, Smashkyrie had been sitting atop the trees, feasting on apples. It was her apple which hit Punchzerker in the head. "Did someone say punch?!" Smashkyrie exclaimed, but it was too late. Punchzerker had breached the fortress nearby, vowing to punch everything in sight. Bravely, she stormed the fortress, following the sounds of punching.
  • Warriors Orochi. The snake god Orochi has brought the warriors of Three-Kingdoms-era China and Sengoku-period Japan together in the same universe to challenge him. Sure, whatever - all we care about is getting to have the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors together at once.
  • The ancient Windows puzzle game Maxwell's Maniac was based off a genuine physics thought experiment, known as Maxwell's Demon; the premise being that a magical being could observe individual molecules and sort them to reverse entropy. He can't. This is ubiquitous in shareware games, to the point where it seems like authors compete to come up with the silliest one.
  • The plot of Kerbal Space Program is essentially "Have a rocket and a few astronauts. Now go into space." All the Flavor Text for ship parts and mission contracts adds is "Everyone else is bad at going into space." You don't need to know why toy companies and canning factories need mineral scanners in a specific polar orbit of Moho.
  • Dead or Alive:
    • Xtreme Beach Volleyball makes an attempt to justify transposing the female fighters of the Dead or Alive series into a volleyball tournament/lesbian dating-simulation. They are tricked by one of the male fighters into visiting an island. When they discover that there will be no fighting, they put aside their mortal enmities, play volleyball and other minigames, and buy each other skimpy clothing. And then they fall for it again in the sequel (although only one of them, Hitomi, fell for the exact same trick twice; the other females were at least got there from a different trick).
    • In Xtreme Beach Volleyball, Zack (the least important character, and with no connection whatsoever to anyone else in DoA) builds an island resort with his gambling winnings. No reason given, and before you ask, he has a girlfriend now (in fact, she helped him with this project). It's eventually destroyed by a volcanic eruption. In Xtreme 2, Zack discovers "the treasure of the Pharaohs", which he uses to... hire an alien spaceship to restore his resort. Again, no explanation offered by any party as to why Zack is doing this, never attempted to search for a safer location, is only interested in women he faced in a fighting tournament in the past, etc. Aaaand, it's ultimately destroyed by a second volcanic eruption, culminating in Zack plunging several hundred feet into the flames. This isn't really spoiling a damn thing here, it's really that much more more gratuitous than any softcore porn flick.
    • Never mind that, how about the actual Dead or Alive? Lessee...something about a dead rich guy, something about a big nasty corporation, something about French opera, something about a wrestling league, something about bioengineered life forms, something about constantly bickering ninjas...ah, screw it! Bring on the ass kicking, fanservice, and counter moves!
      • The fighting games do have the overall story of DOATEC hosting a fighting tournament. The actual reason for characters fighting is unique to each, ranging from wanting revenge for family members (Kasumi), wanting money for selfish reasons (Zack) or wanting money to help a family member (Gen Fu).
  • Senran Kagura is basically an excuse for busty schoolgirl ninjas to fight each other, use cool "Hidden Ninpo" super-moves with a variety of elemental effect, and take Clothing Damage to showcase even more fanservice. There's a semblance of a story to the first game on 3DS, and its sequel on that system actually does have a theme of To Be Lawful or Good for the "good" ninjas, but the majority of titles in the franchise are strictly Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay with tanker-loads of fanservice. If that wasn't enough, Akane from Dead of Alive is a DLC character in the latter games.
    • This is actually lampshaded in the last two entries, Estival Versus and Peach Beach Splash. The former keeps the DW-style gameplay, but the latter is literally just an excuse to have a wet t-shirt contest with the girls and varying kinds of water guns.
  • Arkanoid actually has a somewhat complex plot: The starship Arkanoid is destroyed by (something) and you escape in the ship Vaus, This leads to bouncing a ball off the Vaus to destroy blocks because Vaus is "TRAPPED IN SPACE WARPED BY SOMEONE" mumble mumble mumble DIMENSION-CONTROLLING FORT "DOH". Well, yes.
  • Rayman: Raving Rabbids and its sequel: After an opening cutscene of obscenely high quality, it's all a bunch of unconnected minigames.
  • Alien Swarm. You're drafted into the army to defeat a swarm of aliens and search for survivors.
  • Doom:
    • The opening quote is from the lead programmer of the first game. There was originally a long and complex plot with multiple protagonists. This was cut and the plot was reduced to: "You're the last Space Marine left on Mars. Shoot anything that moves." Obviously this didn't detract from its success. Later it adds "Go To Hell and Back". But still doesn't change things.
    • Doom II was even worse in this regard. The whole plot is "You return to Earth, only to find that the situation is even worse than it was on Mars." Never mind that the game reuses the exact same textures/graphics from the original and that absolutely nothing about it looks like "Earth."
    • DOOM (2016) follows this tradition. You wake up on Mars to find it overrun by demons; go RIP AND TEAR through all of them. It's also deliberately invoked by the devs (there are very few actual cutscenes) and even lampshaded by Samuel Hayden. Perfectly illustrated in an early scene in which Hayden sends the player character an urgent radio message in which he begins to explain the plot to the player character... at which point the irritated player character pushes the receiver away and wanders off while he's still talking to find more things to kill.
  • Unreal Tournament. You are playing a futuristic Blood Sport. Kill everything that moves, try not to die, here is your rocket launcher.
  • Nazi Zombies takes this Up to Eleven, with stories about ancient Nazi experiments, Time Travel, the Cold War, and at one point, an old-west era American town that somehow teleported into the middle of Angola following simultaneous Zombie and Nuclear Armageddons. Of course, we all know it's just an excuse to shoot loads of zombies in whatever location the developers think is most interesting.
  • Left 4 Dead, which has the required Zombie Apocalypse backstory, but it's never really explained, and the developers admitted they didn't want to put in any more plot than that. It's just one big "slaughter anything that's not you or teammates before it slaughters you," with only a few hints in design and dialogue about the characters themselves (though that is slightly expanded outside the game, which mostly focuses on the survivors than the zombies). Yahtzee described the plot thus: "'Here are some zombies' pretty much sums it up." The wall graffiti found in safehouse exists to provide some background info on the setting as well as possible hints about the infection's origins (more so in the sequel).
  • Painkiller. You're in purgatory. Shoot everything until it stops moving. When it does, the exit opens up (also, Purgatory is really just every cool environment the designers had time to come up with, regardless of whether it makes any sense to have a modern military base next to an ancient Persian palace).
  • Quake:
    • Quake III: Arena: You are thrown into deathmatches by some sadistic gods. As the game's manual put it: "Frag everything that isn't you."
    • Every Quake game, usually featuring some sort of Alien Invasion that must be repulsed. The first game vacillated on whether "Quake" was the enemy or the hero. Except perhaps IV, in which the plot actually has some relevance. II tried as well, but the plot was little more than very basic cinematics in between levels.
  • Shadow Warrior starts out with you taking down Zilla's men when they try to do a Contract on the Hitman on you for leaving Zilla Enterprises, but then has you taking them down to avenge Master Leep and save the world. The 2013 remake averts this, having a much more involved storyline.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The plot is an explanation for why two armies are at permanent war. Some other information can be found in supplementary material. For a while, this was the entirety of the game's canon:
      "Nine mercenaries have come together for a job. It's the middle-ish part of a century a lot like the one we just had. A simpler time. There are three TV stations, one phone company, and two holding corporations that secretly control every government on the planet. Each corporation administers its half of the world with a multi-disciplined army of paper pushers. For any problem lacking an obvious bureaucratic solution, mercenaries like these are contracted to address the situation through a massive application of force."
    • The Excuse Plot for Soldier/Demoman War? Kill more of the other side so you can get the super secret extra unlockable: a pair of boots that shield you from Rocket Jump damage. (In-Universe, it's because RED Demoman and BLU Soldier became friends and the Administrator 1) didn't want to risk sensitive information being shared among her peons and 2) REALLY doesn't like friendships.)
    • With each successive major update, the absurd, tongue-in-cheek backstory of the game has become more elaborate. (The producers note that it's developed the most detailed story of any Valve franchise, even more than the plot-oriented Half-Life.) It now involves attempts at achieving Immortality through technological advancements, family feuds over inheritance, and a mineral element with fantastic properties capable of making Australia into the world's dominant power. That, however, is all on the TF2 website. Load up the game and it's just "work with your teammates, achieve your objectives, shoot everyone dressed in the other color."
  • Einhänder has an Excuse Plot of pointless neverending war right up until the Wham Level. That, at best, one player in twenty survived to reach.
  • Ditto for Dodonpachi; even The Reveal is something of an excuse. Still pretty awesome though. "See you in hell!" Donpachi and subsequent games are a Deconstruction of this trope.
  • All your trope are belong to Zero Wing. The opening cutscene of the PC Engine version is rather different from that of the infamous Sega Genesis version.
  • The official plot of R-Type is "Blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire!" Later games elaborated on what the Bydo are and why they are attacking, but the games in general still amount to this.
  • The official plot of Galaxian is "We are the Galaxians. Mission: destroy aliens", not even explaining whether this is instructions for the player character or a threat from the enemy. Even the supplementary material doesn't explain this.
  • From Crystal Crazy's instructions: "Although it might be possible to think up some contrived scenario like you're a ship raiding somebody else's crystals while some nasties try to stop you, it wouldn't really be worth it."
  • The Kid, protagonist of the freeware game I Wanna Be the Guy, wants... well, to be The Guy. Good luck, kid, you'll need it.
  • Freeware game PixelShips justifies the Pokémon meets Defender gameplay with... nanotech, or something. Jeff Minter's Andes Attack justified similar gameplay with good aliens fleeing bad aliens by landing on Earth and living with the ancient people there. One of the aliens got bored, and used a timescoop to collect "a Commodore 64 and a study Kempston joystick" from the future to play games on. Unfortunately, the bad aliens picked up the RF transmissions from this, and attacked Earth. Plot was never important to Llamasoft games.
  • Katamari Damacy: The King of All Cosmos went on a drunken bender and knocked all the stars out of the sky. You're his son and you have to fix it by gathering balls of roughly equivalent size and mass as replacements.
  • God Hand doesn't even bother to hide how it's mainly all about beating up thugs, demons, robots, and the occasional gorilla in a wrestling mask. The story's actually kind of neat, but it never gets in the way, serving instead to flimsily justify the next level. Even the characters joke about how ridiculous it is.
  • Pokémon:
    • The point of the game is to get you to collect all the Mons, train them, and perfect your team for battling all other trainers in the land, and, eventually, other players. Having the goal of becoming the master of the Pokemon League and fighting the local evil team is just the framework for you being able to do all this.
    • The spinoff games avert this, although this is mostly for Pokémon Colosseum and XD, as well as Pokémon Ranger and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Others like Pokémon Snap, Pokemon TCG and Pokémon Trozei!? Excuse Plot to justify it all.
    • Eventually changed in the main series with Pokémon Black and White, where the "evil team" storyline, which was usually confined to the Excuse Plot, is now the main plot of the game, advances within each and every major location visited, and its conclusion is the conclusion of the game, subverting the usual "beat the Champion and become master of the Pokemon League" ending. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 and Pokémon X and Y revert back to using the villainous team as an Excuse Plot once more.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon is an interesting subversion; the first part of the game appears to have the usual Excuse Plot of the previous games, complete with the pseudo-villainous team being a bunch of incompetent thugs. Only the many cutscenes throughout hint at a much larger story than one would expect. This all changes during the second half of the game, which is arguably even more plot-heavy than Black and White, though defeating the Elite Four and Champion is still the conclusion of the game.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day has actually been considered to be an outright parody of an Excuse Plot: Conker gets drunk at a pub, wanders off into the night, wakes up hung over in a place he doesn't recognize, and sets off on a quest to get back home. Meanwhile, the Panther King schemes to kidnap Conker because a red squirrel is the exact height needed to replace the King's broken table leg, which he uses to hold his milk. The plot later thickens as it is revealed that the King's right hand scientist has been incubating an Alien life-form in the king's stomach, and his attempts to capture Conker are to ensure that the King won't go without his milk.
  • Every single bit of plot in Contra is just an excuse to let you go and mow through enemies with your gun. Invoked in Contra: Rebirth.
  • Jon Ritman freely admits of Head Over Heels that he "made the whole game up then added the bullshit in the last fifteen minutes".
  • One of the earliest examples: Donkey Kong, from 1981, although this only partly counts, since it was one of the first attempts to make an actual story in the game.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Are you a bad enough plumber to save our princess in another castle? started to get averted in later games, though, when the Mario series started to make witty caricatures of themselves. before being played completely straight again starting with the New Super Mario Bros. series (Though some titles like the Mario & Luigi series still make fun of the plot device every now and then.)
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii almost has to be parodying this in its intro scene. Peach gets a birthday cake. Bowser Jr and Koopalings jump out of it, throw cake at Peach and carry Peach off into an airship while chased by Mario, Luigi, etc. And Toads fire items out of cannons across the kingdom.
    • The intro scene for the original New Super Mario Bros.. for Nintendo DS has even less storytelling. And instead of "explaining" how the items were distributed, it "explains" why Mario wasn't in Super form when the gameplay starts.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 is about as simple: Bowser captured Peach, became giant and took over much of the universe. Stop him. Or, from the manual, Princess Peach wanting Mario to come to the Star Festival so she can share cake with him.
    • Super Mario World: Mario, Luigi, and Peach are on vacation in a land of dinosaurs. Bowser has hidden seven dinosaurs in eggs. Even if you use the Star World to warp straight from Donut Plains to Bowser's castle, you will have saved all seven.
    • Super Mario World 2: Baby Luigi gets snatched from the Stork. Yoshi and Baby Mario must rescue him.
    • Super Mario 64: Peach invites you to her castle for cake. Bowser's kidnaps Peach and imprisons everyone. Go collect the Stars and defeat Bowser.
    • Super Mario 3D Land: Mario is walking along happily when he's suddenly informed that Bowser has Princess Peach again. Go get her. In 3D.
    • New Super Mario Bros. 2: The same as Wii, but without the cake and about seventy-thousand times more coins than usual.
    • New Super Mario Bros. U: This time, Bowser flies directly to Peach's castle, throws Mario & Co across the world. They land in a tree full of magic acorns, spreading them across the world. And now you know.
    • Super Mario 3D World: Bowser goes into a new world and kidnaps some unnamed fairies for...some...nefarious purpose (that or they just look cute to him). Go and stop him. Oh, and you can bring Toad and Peach along to help too.
    • Super Mario Sunshine actually averts the "Mario saves Peach" formula (or at least at first), but arguably hits this trope even harder. The plot of Sunshine is instead kicked off by Mario being convicted of mass vandalism by the most incompetent court in the world, simply because it wouldn't have happened the same way otherwise.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star: Bowser has kidnapped Peach and shattered the wish-granting comet, go make things right. Notable for being the first Paper Mario game to use this, as the rest of the series is generally known for having more involved plots, which is one of the many reasons why the fanbase dislikes it so much.
  • The Legend of Zelda usually averts this, but there are some exceptions.
  • While the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy did feature a cast of memorable, unique characters, the plots generally boiled down to "Hey, look, there's a bad guy doing a bunch of bad guy things! Now go kill everything in your path while collecting gems and X type of collectible!" Averted with The Legend of Spyro reboot. Of course, whether or not this was a good thing is still up to debate.
  • River City Ransom deserves special mention: The Big Bad kidnaps Ryan's girlfriend. He makes you face all the gangs in the city, including "evil bosses" (Yes, he actually calls them "evil bosses".) But the real hero is Karma Jolt.
  • The freeware game Stair Dismount has a plot involving a superhero who needs to prove that he incurred physical damage in order to pay for the widespread mayhem he inadvertently caused while saving the day. This is surprisingly deep for a game about shoving a ragdoll down a flight of stairs.
  • Angband gives your character the following to-do list: Acquire a lantern, kill Sauron on floor 99, kill Morgoth on floor 100.
  • NetHack: There is an amulet at the bottom of this dungeon. What it does and how it got there are irrelevant. You need to find it, then return it to your god in exchange for immortality. Go.
  • Columns:
    • Being a puzzle game, it can't help but fall into this trope.
    • The first game has some blurb in the instruction manual about it being a game played by jewel traders in the Near East or some such.
    • Super Columns for the Game Gear had a plot about getting an amulet back from an evil merchant. You get past her minions by challenging them to the titular game.
    • Columns III had your character as an Adventurer Archaeologist attempting to find the treasure of the Pyramids. You battle bats, skeletons, scorpions, and mummies... once again by playing a Puzzle Game.
  • Parodied by the StarCraft II minigame Lost Viking. The premise is that a Viking fighter is lost and needs to find its way back to Vikingville, but needs to watch out for the evil Terra-Tron. "HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU!"
  • Heroes of the Storm, previously called "Blizzard Dota" and "Blizzard All-Stars", is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that was originally a mini-game for Starcraft II but is now a free-to-play standalone game. It features player-controlled hero characters from various Blizzard games fighting it out in a crossover of several franchises. An early trailer mentioned some backstory involving two gods in dire need of some entertainment who kidnap the heroes from their respective universes. The announcer in the trailer then states outright that "these heroes are forced to fight to the death in an endless battle with no purpose other than ladder points!"
    Thrall: Wait, what? What do you mean there's lore in this game? You guys actually paid someone to write a story about Raynor meeting Diablo? Isn't this precisely what fan-fiction is for? I didn't approve any of this!
  • Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars:
    • Supposedly, the game is about a war between the Sentinel and the Scourge. Ignoring the Big Hero Little War issues, it is little more of an excuse to get a bunch of heroes into teams and beat on each other while trying to reach the Instant-Win Condition. There are some bits of backstory in the item descriptions, but that is all we really get to know about the world's past.
    • At one point, main developer Icefrog added a third "neutral" faction to "spice things up", he went as far as making a convocatory to allow players to write the backstory for the characters in the neutral faction. Sometime later, when he was running out of space for placing new heroes he simply deleted the neutral faction and relocated the heroes back into the two main factions, he didn't even brought up the issue, not like anyone cared anyway. note 
  • MOBAs in general run on this, because of the lack of story integration. League of Legends can be summed up as "disputes are settled by elites because having another full-scale magic war will destroy the world," and even then, newer champions are given less and less justified reason for joining the League in the first place. (Riot recently "fixed" this problem of having an excuse plot by…mass-retconning the excuse plot, leaving the game with no plot whatsoever.) Heroes of Newerth is basically "A coalition of man and beast vs. Demons and a few traitors that are trying to take over the world." Even Dot A 2 is just "two factions unconditionally hate each other and are fighting over territory."
  • Final Fantasy XIV: No, not the game itself. FFXIV has an amazing story. However, the PVP battlegrounds definitely have an excuse plot. It is a major plot point that the 3 Grand Companies (factions) are allies. The PVP battleground story is basically "Yes, we're allies. But there are these ruins that each of the companies wants to get to first, so we're fighting over those. Want to come help?" Even the NPC acknowledges that it is a Hand Wave just so the game can have PVP.
  • Chip's Challenge had a storyline as an excuse for its puzzles. Chip wants to join a club, and all the levels take place inside a magic clubhouse which serves as the entry test.
  • Kirby:
    • The first Kirby game's plot is: "King Dedede has stolen all the food in Dream Land, beat him up and get it back!". Kirby's Adventure subverts this by making you think it's just about Dedede causing trouble again. He's not!
    • Kirby: Squeak Squad actually plays with this quite a bit. The story starts as an Excuse Plot involving stolen cake but shifts gears after the first world. The actual plot is about a treasure chest containing an ancient being, the titular gang of mice trying to use it to gain wealth, Meta Knight's attempt to prevent anyone from opening it, and Kirby accidentally releasing it. Kirby spends the most of the game in relentless pursuit of his cake, completely oblivious to the larger plot and anything else that happens.
    • The majority of the plots of the subgames in Kirby Super Star are Monster of the Week. However The Great Cave Offensive has a plot that can best be summed up as "Kirby fell down a hole, might as well look for treasure on the way out, amirite?"
  • It's really a let down for Sins of a Solar Empire that in interviews the developers talk about how the three factions come to fight against each other, and that none of them are actually evil, and there are reasons for it. But in the game, the story are just background and use as justification for technology/look of the ships, but no campaign. Fortunately, the developers promised a full campaign some time in the future. In fact, it goes ALL the way up until you start playing... they have an opening cutscene and everything that is narrated by the same TEC character that did the promos - with the set up for the three factions and their conflict... and then, it's just you vs. whoever...
  • Postal:
    • The first game reputedly had a complex, layered story to explain why you wanted to kill everyone from ostrich farm to military base, but buried it to streamline the slaughter. The only real explanation given is that the town you live in wants you dead, and even then it's more likely that you're just crazy and need an excuse to kill.
    • In Postal 2, it's plainly obvious that the "plot" is nothing more than excuse after excuse to run around committing mayhem. Your missions each day include tasks like buying milk at the store, and returning a library book.
  • Crackdown has a plot involving gangs and genetically enhanced soldiers. It's really an excuse to tear up a city with your super heroic gunslinger. And for some reason, the creator of the genetically enhanced soldiers is not just a mad scientist, but a devil worshipper?
  • Gundam Vs. Gundam has the Devil Gundam come to live and take over arcade machines for games representing all of the franchise's 30-year history, forcing the characters to work together and save their virtual existences. No, really.
  • Capcom vs. Whatever:
  • The plot of Magical Battle Arena involves how all magical worlds are connected to a single magical source that lets them exist and how said source is verging on collapse, requiring the Big Bad to force several powerful magic-users of different worlds to fight one another so she can select one to act as a Barrier Maiden and prevent the destruction of the multiverse. This plot only exists to justify why Lina Inverse, Sakura Kinimoto, Nanoha Takamachi, and several other Magical Girls and female mages are blasting the crap out of one another.
  • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Freak accidents involving Shao Kahn and Darkseid fuse the two Big Bads into a Bigger Bad named Dark Kahn and consequently, cause the Mortal Kombat and DC universes to merge together. The inhabitants of both worlds believe those of the other to be invading their own and thus (surprise, surprise) they beat up the everloving shit out of each other, which said Bigger Bad amplifies by infecting everyone with Unstoppable Rage because, yes, he admits to loving nothing more than the kombat when you confront him at the end.
  • In Yoshi's Story, the plot is something about collecting fruit to restore the Happiness Tree and save the adults who have been zapped with some kind of spell.
  • The Interactive Fiction game For A Change has quite a lot of plot, but it gets a mention for its iconic intro.
    The sun has gone. It must be brought. You have a rock.
  • Although the plot for Oneechanbara is surprisingly interesting, it ultimately boils down to little more than an excuse for attractive girls to kill zombies. Not that anyone's complaining.
  • Wario:
    • Wario Land in all games in the series can be summed up as "Wario wants to get more treasure and money by beating up the enemies that get in his way while coming into world saving situations by complete accident." The latest game actually makes the intro and ending completely optional movies that can only be watched from the media room after seeing them once.
    • WarioWare is another example, in that the plot has hardly anything to do with the gameplay, with said gameplay being 3-5 second micro games, and said story being short random adventures of Wario and friends.
    • Snapped! is actually more excusable than the preceding — all of the story can be found in the opening.
  • Atlantica Online has only a thin thread linking all the quests: Atlantis has disappeared, Oriharukon somehow leaked out and is now screwing up the planet's history, and it's up to you and your fellow Remnants to lead your armies and right every wrong.
  • Gunz: The Duel. The actual plot is only a couple of paragraphs, and considering there are no cutscenes, it's barely noticeable in-game. Made more ridiculous by the fact that it calls itself an MMORPG. The Korean version has PVE questing and dungeons, but nobody plays this side of the game. Quest mode has you blasting up goblins and other mobs until the map is cleared, and occasionally fighting a boss along the way.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Donkey Kong Country: Crocodiles have stolen your bananas. Get your bananas back. Cranky Kong had to point this out.
    • Donkey Kong Land: Cranky and the Kongs arguing if its predecessor sold because of graphics or gameplay, Cranky tells Donkey and Diddy to save the banana horde again on Game Boy.
    • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Donkey Kong has been kidnapped by crocodiles. Are you a bad enough monkey to rescue Donkey Kong?
    • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat: DK wants to be King of the Jungle, so he tracks down and beats up all the biggest animals he can find, claiming their territory until he eventually meets up with the Cactus King, who had brain washed the game's bosses. Not that Donkey cares, he just beats the king up to prove he's the baddest Gorilla in all the land. The Wii Updated Re-release rectified that last bit by changing the plot from "DK (is a Jerkass and) pummels everyone to absolute pulps to prove his superiority" to "Some big, weird animals from distant lands have stolen your bananas. Get your bananas back."
    • The original Donkey Kong game - "Some big, weird animal from a distant land has stolen your girlfriend. Get your girlfriend back." The big weird animal in this case being Donkey Kong, and Mario has to do the saving, so maybe Donkey Kong as a Jerkass makes a bit more sense?
  • Congo Bongo was a 1983 Sega arcade game that had more than a little in common with Donkey Kong, but the plot, if you could call it that, was much lamer. After the mischievous ape gives the hunter a hotfoot while asleep, the hunter is willing to risk life and limb chasing down the big ape, avoiding wild animals and dangerous terrain to get even - by giving the ape a hotfoot.
  • Retro Game Challenge. You get sucked back in time to play 8-bit video games with a young gamer geek. Good luck, and keep on kickin'!
  • You must stop the sun and the moon from fighting by... uh... partying? According to Mario Party 6, yes. The original Mario Party game had all the Mario characters compete with each other to solve major problems in order to determine who is the "Super Star". Again, by partying. It eventually ends with you unlocking a secret board and trying to recover the broken pieces of the Eternal Star, with Bowser trying to stop you at all costs with his minions. Bring out the party.
    • You would be amazed at the cosmic significance of Super Stardom. In Mario Party 3, the Millenium Star (a superpowerful cosmic being born once every thousand years) arrives in the Mushroom Kingdom to determine just who, exactly, is the best at life-size board games.
    • Spoofed in Mario Party 2, where the premise is that the cast is putting on a stage production. Even Bowser's just acting.
  • Lampshaded in Skate It, where there's a live-action video of an announcer describing the horrible devastating climate events which have wrecked the world's major cities. The slides he shows are an 'Artist's Impression' of the events, which are drawn childishly and in crayon. Then you go and skateboard around the ruined cities for no real reason.
  • Mole Mania: For whatever reason, a farmer with a huge island and more subordinates that outnumber the legions of hell decides to kidnap the wife and children of a mole. As the mole you then go through multiple areas of the island with some fun puzzles, complete bosses like a kangaroo, a legion of hedgehogs, and the sun itself. And in the end, the farmer somehow is an Implacable Man that gives up on his own terms when you beat his challenge.
  • Earthworm Jim: Don't let your enemies take your super suit. Also, protect Princess What's-Her-Name, cause they're after her for some reason.
  • Lyle in Cube Sector: Your cat's been stolen. Go rescue him.
  • If you want a truly ridiculous excuse plot, look no further than Quiz & Dragons, a two-player 1992 Capcom Quiz Game where you must save the kingdom of Capconia from the Big Bad Gordian, obviously a Satan expy, who has stolen a mystical seed and used it to enhance his mooks' wisdom on subjects including, but not limited to, science, geography, and television! The mooks then go around eating people that get their questions wrong. The sage king has no choice but to send a fighter with a Healing Factor, a wizard who can change quiz categories, an Action Girl that can take out one or two choice answers, and a ninja that deals twice the amount of damage to take back the Wisdom Seed and save Capconia. And what do you get for saving the kingdom? Your name on canned soup flavors!
  • Glider PRO houses rarely made an effort to provide a justification for the auto-generated opening message of "get every star to win", though a few such as "SpacePods" tried to work in a flimsy premise. The game's engine doesn't really allow a different mode of play.
  • Online Flash game Powerfox has a little "plot" window during the opening screen that explains the story: "Powerfox, you need to rescue the world!" "Yeah."
  • Super Space Invaders — the Amiga port of the arcade game Super Space Invaders '91 — adds a story wherein some old arcade machines are jettisoned into space in the year 2061, though a Space Invaders machine broke out of orbit and drifted through space until twelve years later, when an very intelligent alien race got their hands on the arcade machine. Then in 2091, the Invaders, now real and threatening, suddenly show up and proceed to attack earth colonies. After that, you play through was is essentially the same game you've played countless times before.
  • Portal is a very interesting deconstruction of this trope. The plot at first seems to be a thinly disguised excuse for having you run through a bunch of rooms where you play with the portal gun. With cake as the reward. Then it takes a look at how insane players would have to be to work under such conditions and what kind of psycho would expect them to.
    • Played straight in the backstory of the sequel's Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC. It goes like this: Aperture Science is almost bankrupt, so Cave Johnson hatches a plan to run a scam spanning The Multiverse — send the plans for new test chambers to alternate versions of Aperture on other Earths, each ruled over/managed by an alternate Cave Johnson, get them to construct the test chambers and have them stolen back to Earth Prime. The player is in the role of designer and tester, designing the blueprints for new chambers and running through those that already exist.
  • The developers of Carmageddon were forced to come up with a literal Excuse Plot to allow the game's release in the United Kingdom, where the full blood version was refused a rating by the BBFC, effectively banning it. To get around it, they swapped the pedestrian sprites for legions of the undead, tinted everyone visible in the starting FMV a bit green, and changed its voiceover to make the same scenes as in the US release appear to be about a vehicular crusade to exterminate the zombies.
  • The early Super Robot Wars games suffered from this. However, by Super Robot Wars Alpha, the story and cross-over interactions hit in stride and it's never looked back since.
  • The various sub-games in Half-Minute Hero all boil down to one of the following: "You have 30 seconds to save the world/defeat all the enemies before sunrise/get back home before the gate closes/guard the sage casting the kill-everything magic".
  • Used and humorously lampshaded in the flash game Super Mario Defence:
    "This gives me a plan, a plan so devious it must have been hastily tagged onto the game after it was complete."
  • In Diner Dash: Flo Through Time - The plot is as follows: A broken microwave sends Flo and Grandma through time. And apparently a lot of their customers since we have teenagers and jerks talking on cellphones in the middle ages...
  • Deadly Towers uses a ridiculously long Opening Scroll to explain that the plot involves a prince about to come of age who has to defeat a devil threatening his kingdom by burning down the seven towers of the devil's castle.
  • Canabalt: Run and jump across the rooftops to escape... something. The background featuring Humongous Mecha stomping through a wrecked city show that you don't want to be around here, but that's all you get.
  • Sub Terra has two excuse plots. The one on Spiderweb Software's website is fairly simple: there's a mine, you want to steal the gems, and the miners set traps to prevent you from doing precisely that. The one in the game itself explains the main character as being a scientist with ultimately heroic intentions, but neglects to explain why he needs to collect gems.
  • "princess is kidnapped. you must save princess." That's the entire Excuse Plot for Eversion, complete with (lack of) capitalization. This is stolen from the old MSX game Crusader.
  • The original Tekken had a very dull story, essentially being a tournament to find the greatest fighter in the world. This has been improved in later games, though, and Tekken 6 has a hugely developed storyline.
  • Blast Corps: A carrier is carrying defective nuclear warheads. They leaked, necessitating setting it on autopilot to head straight to its destination regardless of what's in the way when a single impact could set the nukes off and cause nuclear winter. Your job is to destroy every obstacle in its path. Even after you avert the nuclear crisis, you are then called back into action to destroy more buildings because a damaged space shuttle needs to make an emergency landing and it's in the middle of a town. After that, you are called to go to the Moon to clean up debris left there by mankind and your team knows just how silly the whole thing is, but they go along with it anyway. Just more excuses to blow stuff up and no one is complaining.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog: An evil scientist is turning cute forest animals into robots; stop him!
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Evil scientist is doing it again; stop him, with the help of a mutant fox!
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Evil scientist has duped an echidna into helping him; stop both of them! Apparently, the in-game plot was kept to a minimum in the Genesis games so that Sega of Japan and Sega of America would be free to make up mutually contradictory backstories, tailored to their target markets. Then came the Sonic Adventure games and the addition of an actual plot to the series (and with it, the Western backstory was almost entirely rendered Canon Discontinuity).
    • Sonic the Fighters: 8 characters compete against each other in a tournament for 8 Emeralds in order to power up a one-seat rocket ship to space to stop the evil scientist.
    • Sonic Labyrinth: Eggman slowed Sonic down with heavy boots. You must go through his labyrinth to remove them.
    • Sonic Heroes deliberately aimed for a much more simplistic plot with the general conflict, in order to serve as a "jump-on" point for newcomers to the series (i.e., Team Sonic's story consists of stopping Eggman from using his ultimate weapon). The only exception is Team Dark's story, due to the subplot involving Shadow.
    • The first two games of the Sonic Advance Trilogy consists of "Dr. Eggman is up to his old tricks again!"). The third game's opening cutscene is this (Eggman actually does use the emeralds, and splits the world into seven zones), but as All There in the Manual states, there's more to the plot than meets the eye.
    • Sonic Rivals series: The first game's plots consists of Eggman (later revealed to be Eggman Nega) planning to turn the world into a card and the four characters must fight each other in order to save the world. The 2nd game's plot is a little more detailed - something about Eggman capturing all the Chao to feed to an Iblis-expy called the Ifrit- but by and by the "plot" is mostly characters insulting each other for no particular reason.
    • Sonic Generations can be summed up as this: "Time and space is being distorted by an unknown being! Sonic, go team up with your past self and save your friends as you save the world and explore areas you encountered years ago!"
  • Descent: You are a space mercenary who is hired by an unscrupulous space mining corporation. Apparently the AI controlling their space mines has gone rogue and you need to travel to each mine, destroy the robots, destroy the reactor, and get out safely. Made even more ridiculous because the supposed "mining robots" include a "drilling" bot with an under-mounted chain gun and robots that dig with homing missiles. As the game progresses the makers lose all pretense of designing "mining" robots and explain the spike covered fusion shooting monstrosities as a "top secret military test."
  • The plot of Spelunky is so irrelevant, that the blurbs at the start of the game explaining said plot are randomly selected from a list.
  • Monster Hunter. There is a village. The village is under Attack of the 50 Foot Monster. Since you are a newbie hunter yourself, you have to start with the small ones. Here's your BFS. Interestingly, while Monster Hunter: World has a fairly intricate storyline featuring colonization, environmentalism, and quite a bit of Character Development, every conflict in said storyline is still resolved by you going out and killing assorted monsters — it's all just a justification to get the actual monster hunting right to the forefront.
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. Castlevania has once again risen... inside a book. So the book brings the heroes to life to destroy the castle. Inside a book.
  • Gratuitous Space Battles: There's a war on. Go fight it. Hey, it's called Gratuitous Space Battles for a reason!
  • Jojo's Fashion Show: World Adventure. Before each level there's a couple of lines of an incredibly boring story about some stereotypical bitchy fashionista drama, w/e. Other than the story being about fashion designers who are going on a world tour, and the game being about you designing outfits to fit different styles from around the world, it's entirely irrelevant. The level titles are ostensibly based on the story, but they have little bearing even on that.
  • Lampshaded in the online game Fancy Pants Adventure 2. "You must go in after him! For justice! For humanity! For World 2 to have a plotline!"
  • Slime Forest Adventure exists to teach the player Japanese. Everything else is subordinate to that goal.
  • Other than a short three paragraph summary at the start of the game, Banana Nababa doesn't really have a complex plot. It mainly amounts to a wizard stealing six jewels and now some guy has to kill six bosses in a tower in order to get them all back.
  • The First Funky Fighter has a beautiful lady kidnapped as your main reason to punch suckers out of a massive bunch of wacky crocodiles and sharks!!
  • This trope is one of the (many) reasons why Soulstorm, the third Dawn of War expansion, is so despised. While the previous three campaigns possessed fairly intricate stories with detailed charcters (though Dark Crusade was pushing it), Soulstorm's campaign is "a Negative Space Wedgie attracts nearly every faction in the galaxy to a single system. They fight".
  • Castle Crashers: "Four princesses have been kidnapped! You there, color-coded knights! Go rescue them!"
  • Fatal Racing (Whiplash in the US): The top eight car manufactures hold Car Fu races every year. The winning company enjoys a massive boost in sales. Represent your company well.
  • Let's Go Find El Dorado has a pioneer family decide at the last second to look for the fabled city of gold, instead of taking the Oregon Trail.
  • Split Second: You're on a TV show. Now go race and blow as much stuff up as you possibly can!
  • The plot of Ivy the Kiwi? can be summed up in its entirety as "a baby bird has been separated from her mother."
  • Night Walk, an economic British game about walking through graveyard with zombies. The description must be seen to be believed.
  • The plot of Warriors of Might and Magic is present but extremely shady and hard to get (at least in some versions). You work your way through a series of unrelated dungeons (including a village inhabited by Orcs, a golem-infested maze, a dungeon city full of goblins and minotaurs and zombies, a temple of demon worshippers and a dark temple-prison inside a volcano) in order to remove a mask. Which happens at 3/4 of the game, leaving you with no reasons why to invade the temple.
  • Fury3 does have a plot—rogue bionic warriors are rising again to take over the galaxy (or maybe universe, it's never specified)—but in general, all a player needs to know is that you go to random places on random planets and shoot everything that moves. Except for trees.
  • Jaleco's City Connection had one of the cutest plots ever. You're a tourist who stole a huge load of paint from a hardware store in New York, and the police have just put out an APB on you. The only way to shake them is to paint every inch of the Big Apple's single-lane, three-level highway system. Along the way you have to either avoid the cop cars or shoot cans of oil at them and ram them, as well as not hit any of the enormous cats or roadblocks that show up out of nowhere. Once you're done with New York, it's on to various other cities around the world with increasingly screwy single-lane three-level highway systems.
  • In Real Life, the games made in computer camp game design classes for kids follow this trope. The games aren't usually meant to be sophisticated enough to have cutscenes and the like. It's just gameplay, with a small backstory added with a "show the game information" command.
  • In the flash game Gun Bot, the "plot" is being made up on the spot by a developer who was so busy with making the game that he forgot to add in a plot, deciding to just make it up as he goes along. This is the reason why a robot has a bug for a little sister.
  • Catacomb Abyss: "You arch rival Nemesis has summoned the dark forces of the underworld to destroy all that is good." That's about it. There's some other background information to be found, but it's mainly about the creepy places you'll be going to, which are in themselves a large part of what this game series is all about.
  • It is actually surprising to learn that Linear RPG does actually have a plot. It's kind of in the background.
  • In the opening of Urban Yeti, a silly Game Boy Advance game, we are told that Yetis surely exist and are among us, therefore they would, like us, want to have a home and family. And so the titular Yeti's journey begins. Get ready to Yeti!
  • In Magical Whip: Wizards of Phantasmal Forest, two apprentice wizards somehow end up in the eponymous forest. Time to beat up a bunch of monsters and dragons to escape!
  • The freeware shmup Hydorah has only bare hints at a plot. Apparently, there's some sort of alien empire ruled by an evil god named Hydorah that is attacking. But half of what little dialog there is (16 lines counting the post credits scene) makes no sense, and some of the missions don't even involve fighting the Hyodrans/Meropticonians/whatever at all.
  • In Temple Run, you steal the idol. The demon monkeys start chasing you. Now run. (Good luck.)
  • Meat Boy: You are a cube of meat/skinless boy. Suddenly, a fetus in a tuxedo wearing jar suit kidnaps your girlfriend (who is made of bandages). Go rescue her. There's also Buzz saws, lots of them.
  • The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout: Bugs Bunny's fan club is celebrating his 50th birthday, but his jealous Looney Tunes co-stars don't like this and do everything they can to obstruct his way to the party.
  • Hoard. You're a dragon! Burn kingdoms! Steal treasure! Kidnap and ransom princesses! Dodge the evil knights trying to kill you!
  • The I of It. The intro goes as following - "Once upon a time there was an I and a t. 'Bah', said the t, and left. 'Where is t?' I was wondering, and started the quest."
  • Alien Hallway: There are aliens in the hallway. Aliens are bad. Shoot them. That's all the plot you need.
  • Dark Orbit: It's a bunch of years into the future. Humanity has left Earth and colonized the stars, but needs resources. Three mining companies have formed. They can't get along. Here's your ship. Join one of the companies and kill everybody not in it. Where did all the aliens come from, and why aren't the corporations more worried about killing them than each other?
  • The prologue to the Flash game Robot Wants Puppy in its entirety: "In Zeta Sector, Morgox the Unborn has conquered all of civilization and spread his dictatorship to every corner of the galaxy, ruling with an iron tentacle. / But on Delos IV, a rebellion is forming. Ordinary people are rising up to stand against tyranny. Meeting by cover of night, they plot to cripple Morgox's fleet from within. The attack is set in motion simultaneously by confederates working in stardocks across the sector... / Meanwhile, in a completely different galaxy, thousands of light years away, Robot wants puppy. / By the way, his tentacles are literally iron. That wasn't some kind of metaphor."
  • Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix has a simple plot for the excuse of having Mario characters having a dance off against each other. Waluigi stole the Music Keys, which can give someone the power to take over the world. He gets defeated but then Wario takes his place and after he gets defeated, Bowser steps in as the Final Boss. Yes, the villains dance off against Mario and Bowser, despite his big frame, can dance pretty damn well.
  • The plot of Persona 4: Arena is explained as Teddie setting up the tournament and inviting all the characters to see who is the best Persona user. Oh, and some of the characters from Persona 3 want in on the fun too. Except not. The Teddie who set up the tournament is an impostor (as is the commentator, Rise) and the real one has gone missing. That Teddie is the shadow of a girl who was thrown into the TV, and the tournament is her dungeon. And the P3 characters are there investigating the theft of one of Aigis' sister units...
  • Snowboard Kids. What little plot there is in the first game is All There in the Manual. Snowboard Kids Plus has cutscenes or the prologue and everyone's endings, though, and in Snowboard Kids 2, there are cutscenes before and after each course.
  • Pretty much the point of the Mission Mode from Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. It had several out of character moments just for the sake of fighting. For example Zechs Merquise's mission involves destroying every mecha that fires energy just to prove melee is the way to go. Master Asia wants to beat up every under age pilot as some kind of hardcore psychologist. A girl can also invite the player to beat up her own older brother Judau Ashta as a punishment. Even couples fight for ridiculous or unexplained reasons.
  • Angry Birds:
    • The Pigs stole the Birds' eggs to eat, and you have to recover them by flinging the Birds with a slingshot at the Pigs' buildings to defeat them.
    • Angry Birds Rio has a slightly more complex plot, the main Birds are captured by bird smugglers and taken to Brazil, and they have to save the other locked Birds and defeat Nigel and his minions.
    • Angry Birds Space has the same plot as the first one, but IN SPACE!
    • Angry Birds Go!: The pigs are having a race for cake, the birds come by and see the cake too and also want it. Thus joining in on the racetrack.
    • Angry Birds Epic: Same as the first game again, but rather than use a slingshot this time, everyone's LARPing for some reason instead.
  • In Find Mii, the little adventure game that comes with the Nintendo 3DS's StreetPass Mii Plaza, your main Mii is the ruler of a kingdom. Monsters break into the palace and kidnap him/her. Use Streetpass to recruit heroes and go rescue them. The sequel uses the exact same plot, aside from adding a prince and princess to the list of royals who need saving.
  • The point of Time Gal is that a villain named Ludo is traveling through different time periods in order to make himself ruler of the world in his own era. the heroine is a young lady named Reika who is traveling through time to stop him. None of this is mentioned in-game.
  • The ZX Spectrum game Arcturus has 22 in-game pages of plot involving the development and destruction of at least three intergalactic civilisations, with Earth set to be the fourth. It's quite a phenomenal backdrop and story to justify the fact that, underneath it all, the game is actually just 4x4x4 tic-tac-toe.
  • Many games by WildTangent (which often come bundled with new computers) are nothing more than arcade games of the type such as tile matching or other arcade-type games, but come with excuse plots that fill time between level-loading, or introducing puzzles to solve.
  • Ao Oni is a survival horror game, which can be boiled down to "dodge the Oni, solve puzzles, escape". While version 1 puts more into developing a reason for the characters' being there (Takuro was curious about the place, so his three friends went along with it, dragging two underclassmen along for the ride to see how they'd react), subsequent versions do away with the two underclassmen, and settle on curiosity as a suitable reason (version 6.23 reveals it was Takeshi who had convinced his friends to enter the mansion instead).
  • PAYDAY The Heist has an extremely bare bones plot where you take part in several kinds of heists to make a lot of money. For the player, it's all about shooting cops and stealing the loot of the level. The sequel's web-series expands on it a little, with Bain explaining that everything is just "practice runs" for the ultimate heist.
  • BLOODCRUSHER II randomly generates its storyline for each playthrough, meaning the player can fight Communist Nazis on the Moon.
  • Space Harrier, in the manual for the Sega 32X version, describes a scenario in which Harri, last of the Sentinels of Dragonland, picks up a Jet Pack from the wreckage of a battle with the evil forces of Valna, wonders What Does This Button Do?, presses it and is suddenly flying. Almost none of this is referenced in the game itself.
  • The plot to Rastan is not only practically irrelevant but inconsistent between versions. In the original Arcade Game, he's winning a bounty a princess placed on a dragon. In the Sega Master System version, he's out to rescue her. In the Commodore 64 version, he's defending his land against an Evil Sorcerer. The Non Linear Sequels don't help sort matters out.
  • The Magic School Bus had a number of tie-in games where the intention was obviously to educate kids about certian themes and ideas. Most of them also had a "plot" that mainly served to motivate the field trip and give the player a sense of purpose.
  • Enduro Racer was an early Sega motorcycle game where you zip through twisty, rock-strewn, jump-filled roads for no clear reason. If you reach the end (NOT an easy task), you're rewarded with this revelatory info: "'Enduro' is a symbolic journey through life via the media of a race. The results are insignificant and what really counts is competing. Of particular importance are the lessons to be learned concerning one's self from the various encounters you experience along the way. There is no victor or loser in this test of endurance; the only thing that really matters is that you make a commitment to begin the long and trying trek. This game is then dedicated to all of the 'life riders' who have started out on the solitary trip to find their own individual limits. Last but not least, may we sincerely congratulate you on a perfect run." Well, at least that last line make sense...
  • Tecmo's Gemini Wing had a ridiculous plot in the manual of the Western computer versions, in which all the civilized alien races decide to invade Earth because of some journalist wrote the headline "DIE MUTANT ALIEN SCUM."
  • While the main story of Fire Emblem Awakening is definitely not an Excuse Plot, most of the DLC episodes can be summed up as "Wouldn't it be cool if Ike fought Roy? Or Marth fought Sigurd?" Then there's the Golden Pack, which was made solely for easy grinding and features absurd plots like a group of zombies threatening vegetables or somehow stealing all of your units personal funds. Only Chrom seems to realize how ridiculous these situations are.
  • Young Joseph's JBA plot in Jojos Bizarre Adventure Heritage For The Future. Alessi made you young again. Have fun pounding the other heroes til you kick Alessi's arse. Justified in that he was essentially a bonus character (based on the 1930's Joseph from JBA's second story). Joseph and Alessi never meet in the manga.
  • Dynamite Dux: You're a duck (or two ducks) whose owner has been captured by a wizard. Go save her.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins. You're an FBI agent. A serial killer just shot and killed two cops with your gun and, based on that rock-solid evidence and despite your complete lack of a motive, you're now a wanted man. Your only option is to fight through a horde of Crazy Homeless People to find the real killer.
  • Played with heavily in the Deadpool game. There is an actual plot involving Mister Sinister trying to destroy humanity and the X-Men recruiting Deadpool to help them stop him, but Deadpool doesn't care about the plot at all. He's much more interested in just having fun and is only getting involved because of a personal quarrel with Sinister. In the end, the game's story is more about Deadpool and his bizarre psychosis and way of viewing the world than it is about fighting Sinister.
  • A character's intro in Romancing SaGa 1 and Romancing SaGa 3. serves as an Excuse Plot to set the chosen protagonist off on a journey to defeat evil forces and hunt treasures that, most of the times, do not concern their stories. While some characters do have special episodes and quests, the point of the games is to let the players freely build their own teams and do multiple quests that will eventually lead to saving the world from Big Bads.
  • Dweep is a puzzle game about controlling a character with the goal of getting him to a specific place. This gameplay can, of course, accommodate many possible simplistic "plots". In the game, the character is a purple Waddling Head and his goal is to reach his children, and that's about all the story there is.
  • Lampshaded in Werebox 2 by the intermission cartoons which portray game company staff trying to come up with a basic plot for the game only to conclude that a "crappy physics puzzle game" doesn't need to have a storyline.
  • In Spooky Bonus strange things are happening in Old Town. A newspaper headline along these lines and a brief glimpse of a crypt with a green light coming from inside are all the introduction you get to a fairly standard match-3 game.
  • In Zombie Solitaire a bad tofu burger started a Zombie Apocalypse and now you need to play solitaire in order to get away from them. Or something.
  • The plot in Knights Of The Chalice serves little more purpose than to send the party out to slaughter things.
  • Offspring Fling!'s plot is given in short storyboard cutscenes and pop-up messages, but they are entirely optional and the gameplay can be understood just as well without them.
    Offspring Fling is a game about a poor forest creature that has misplaced all of her children. She'll have to fight her way through over 100 levels of action puzzle platforming to get them all back home. There's danger around every corner, but she wont rest until her family is safe again.
    —Game description
  • Karnov: "Get the map that leads to treasure" was the plot of the Arcade Game. The Famicom version, which had a different Final Boss, also had original cutscenes that had Karnov be on a Mission from God and made no mention of any treasure; these cutscenes were entirely removed from the US localization.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, intentionally styled after an 8-bit NES game, has an equally flimsy plot - the Nerd and company are sucked into a shitty game.
  • Startopia: there was some kind of war that left a lot of space stations hollow and useless, yet inexplicably outfitted with perfectly intact exteriors and no serious structural damage, and you're basically bouncing between them on an administrator-for-hire basis.
  • Lampshaded in the very title of one of the Adventure Time games, Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!
  • Tread Marks has a paragraph-long backstory about how the artificially intelligent battle tanks decided to run off to the woods and shoot each other for fun and race each other with live ammunition on the track. Aside from that, there is no plot or story.
  • The plot of Something is to retrieve the plot stolen by Ballser. It turns meta when Mario reads the sheet with this description.
  • Cat Poke: You're a little girl who can't go out because it's raining. The most fun you can have at the moment is butt-poking all nine of your cats. Might as well!
  • Meteos presents its 'match three' gameplay as the sake of all planets being at risk from the evil planet Meteo. While this isn't so bad, the Star Trip mode's story of 'a spaceship has been sent to sort all this out and destroy Meteo forever' is just an excuse to have a gameplay mode that isn't the regular kind.
  • Sky Serpents is about a kid who wants to beat his father's record of having slain 14 sky serpents. You're told that in a brief intro, and then it's onto the battles.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time's plot is this; Krang has stolen the Statue of Liberty. When the Turtles try to get it back, Shredder sends them into a time warp that bounces them from one point in history to another. Other than that, it plays like any other beat 'em up.
  • In the beat 'em up Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force, all you need to know is that there is some evil supercomputer that was locked away in an old warship and it hacked the military network while sending out these giant mechas called Slave Gears to wreck Artemis City. Now get Hound Dog over there and kick some ass! The updated PC Engine CD port of this game, however, gave the almost non-existent a much bigger narrative, aided by anime-styled cut-scenes.
  • Many of the Grand Theft Auto games rely on "the protagonist needs money!" as an excuse to do missions.
    • In Grand Theft Auto III it doesn't even make sense. Claude is betrayed by his girlfriend and is out for revenge. However you will quickly get more money than you'll ever need by just doing main missions, which in the context of the story doesn't bring you any closer to Catalina. Claude could have easily just waited for the bridges to open, asked around town for info on Catalina, then hunted her down.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tommy was attacked during a drug deal he oversaw for Sonny Forelli, costing Sonny a huge sum of money.
    • For the most part averted in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, however during Catalina's missions, Carl remarks that he "seriously needs the paper." It's not made clear exactly how money would help him.
    • Even the otherwise good character Victor Vance ends up doing criminal work to help his family in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Roman Bellic blows all his money on gambling or gets in debt with criminals, forcing Niko to get more.
    • Grand Theft Auto V:
      • The main storyline begins with a deconstruction. Once the Villain Protagonist duo has accomplished their initial goal of settling their debt to Madrazo — which happens very early in the plot — their only motivation for their continued crime spree is pure greed and self-interest...which also solves the problem of Gameplay and Story Segregation by demonstrating just who would casually run people over and steal cars without a shred of guilt.
      • The Rampages parody the trope. The player must kill as many of a certain character group (gang members, soldiers, etc.) before the time runs out, but unlike with earlier games in the series where the Rampage just starts up, this time they're reframed as Trevor having a psychotic episode, going on killing sprees over very minor insults.
      • In general, GTA V plays with the trope almost every possible way before the end, with subversions, lampshades, straight examples, etc. The characters' motivations vary widely depending on the mission, from the comically thin (e.g. the aforementioned Rampages) to ones that are not excuses at all (e.g. a corrupt government agent forces you to do his dirty work).
  • Magical Chase's plot basically centers around a Cute Witch who accidentally set free a bunch of devils from a forbidden tome, and she must seal them back or else her teacher will turn her into a frog.
  • The original Super Smash Bros. 64 was this, the plot being that the characters were toys being played with by their owner (ie. Master Hand), which was just an excuse to have "your favorite Nintendo characters duke it out". Melee hints at this vaguely (with the dolls replaced with trophies), along with no plot for its Adventure Mode other than "brawl your way through Nintendo worlds and fight Bowser at the end". Brawl averted this with its own Adventure Mode, The Subspace Emissary, only for 3DS/Wii U to return to the Excuse Plot format, this time being "characters from various worlds do battle/are invited to a tournament" as told through its trailers.
  • The Mental Series has this as the premise for all of its games. You're in a mental hospital/city/the woods/a circus/a bigger city being hunted! Get out of there!
  • In The Adventures of Lomax, an evil wizard named Evil Ed turned lemmings into monsters and Lomax has to save them. There isn't even any actual explanation about the story in the game itself (only in the manual). You just go around, defeating enemies and going through worlds that are hardly connected to each other (Lemmingland, horror world, The Wild West and Space Zone), culminating with you fighting against the game's Final Boss that you saw earlier only on the world map shown between levels.
  • Gotham City Impostors is about a bunch of trigger-happy vigilantes calling themselves the Bats fighting the equally trigger-happy Jokerz, all serving as an excuse for frantic multiplayer FPS action.
  • Vinyl Goddess from Mars: You're a scantily-clad babe on her way to a B-Movie convention until a meteor storm crashed your ship on a strange planet, now go find your stuff quickly before it's too late to get the to convention!
  • Here's our story in Gruntz: the orange gruntz were having fun with their toys. Then one of them found some mysterious giant buttons on the ground. Pressing them opened a strange gate with a portal in it. At this moment, they were attacked by blue gruntz. In a desperate effort to save themselves, orange gruntz jumped into the portal, and blue gruntz followed them. Cue them having to go through numerous puzzles to come back home.
  • 100% Orange Juice!: Most of the campaigns qualify, however Kai's has everyone explicitly mentioning that playing a game of dice will move the plot forward.
  • Blaster Master: Jason's pet frog got loose and jumped onto a box of radioactive waste that just happened to be sticking out of a hole in the ground in his back yard. After the box and frog fall down the hole, Jason jumps in after them, landing in a vast underground mutant-inhabited world where he immediately finds a super-advanced tank just sitting around. Now Jason has to go fight the mutants to get his frog back.
  • Revenge of the Sunfish parodies this with the text used to justify some of the truly bizarre Unexpected Gameplay Changes:
    "YOU JUST GOT An INTENSE CRAVING FOR DIRT. YOU NEED TO EAT DIRT InORDER TO SAVE THE HUMAn race. You are our last hope. EVERY thing counts on you and your dirt eating."
  • In Penguins' Journey you need to guide a bunch of escaping penguins from a "penguin farm" in the jungle to their original home in the icy wastes by building bridges with different-shaped tiles.
  • Spanky's Quest has a rather silly plot. Spanky the monkey is going on a picnic and walking through the forest when suddenly bricks start to rain down all around him. He finds himself trapped by a Wicked Witch, who also makes the fruits in Spanky's knapsack sprout arms and legs and try to kill him.
  • The plot of the original 'Mortal Kombat'' is this, before the movie and sequels tossed in all that Outworld balance between realms schtuff; An evil sorcerer is running a deadly tournament, with a four-armed monster-man as the reigning champion. Go there, compete for your own reasons, and take home the win.
  • Epyx's Temple of Apshai series barely has a plot and hardly needs one — go into the temple, fight the monsters, and grab their loot. What more do you need?
  • Hatred was designed with this in mind. You're an unnamed misanthropic psychopath who hates the world and everyone in it; go slaughter every innocent person you see.
  • In Mosaic: Game of Gods the God of Chaos is trying to destroy the world because a flower shattered when he touched it and you, the Goddess of Order, have to save it by putting mosaics back together.
  • The creators of Cuphead admit that the plot, which involves the eponymous Cuphead and his brother Mugman losing a bet with the Devil and having to hunt down the Devil's other debtors, is just an excuse for the game's string of boss fights.
  • There is a plot involving a Big Bad named Elheil trying to summon otherworldly monsters in Summoners War: Sky Arena. However, the main storyline is easily and quickly completed, and most players would forget that it even exists.
  • A fangame series called Happy Tree Friends Adventures has most of its games' plots summed up as this: A princess bear is kidnapped by Bowser, go rescue her. The only exceptions are the spinoff games (except for the Game Boy-styled Retraux, which uses the same main plot as the main (numbered) games).
  • Kritika opens with an epic background story about an evil alchemist winning the trust and support of the entire population of Kirenos, before establishing a reign of tyranny under his rule. It is then followed by a brief background story for the character class that the player have picked. None of these background information is ever mentioned in the game again.
  • Downplayed in the erotic Web Game Corruption of Champions. The sexy encounters are, of course, the main draw of the game, and the main plot thread is just slight enough to qualify for this trope - Horny Devils from another dimension have opened a portal near your home town, and a champion must be sent through it each year to keep them in check on their home turf; are you a bad enough dude(ette) to end the threat once and for all? However, the background plot is very engaging, and the gameplay mechanics make it easy enough to ignore the juicy bits if you're not really in the mood for them.
  • The Amiga Shoot 'em Up Banshee has a very tongue-and-cheek take on the clichéd scenario of Earth facing an Alien Invasion in the year 1999. The introductory text explains that this Earth belongs to an Alternate Universe without color television, and that the Styx killed our hero's father "for refusing to invent the microwave oven."
  • Parappa's story in Um Jammer Lammy pretty much consists of him and his friend searching around the town trying to find a good guitar. There isn't even any attempt to connect the story with the gameplay, both of them having absolutely nothing to do with each other (or even any characters in common besides Parappa).
  • The story to Medal of Honor (2010)'s sequel, Warfighter, is basically "generic Muslim terrorist with about five seconds of actual screen time gets his hands on some vaguely defined "new explosive" which will apparently be very dangerous". The majority of the game consists of loosely connected missions of "following leads", which are pretty much just excuses to fly around the world and blow up vastly outclassed Mooks; the fact that most of these missions are all Very Loosely Based on a True Story means the whole thing will have an excuse plot by definition. For example, one mission randomly has you play as a sniper during the real-life events of Captain Phillips, but this is totally irrelevant to the plot and is never mentioned again. There's also a subplot about the main character not spending enough time with his wife and kid, but it's totally disconnected to the main narrative and ends up going nowhere.
  • Cook, Serve, Delicious: You have to help a dilapidated restaurant climb through the star ratings by serving enough orders and making enough money. Minigames ensue.
  • Misa's mission in Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is to stop her friend Suzuka, who has gotten her hands on and become possessed by an evil weapon called the Demon Blade, which feeds on the life force of anyone who wields it until there is nothing left. Misa has to fight demons and evil cyborgs in order to get to her.
  • In stark contrast to the rest of the Metal Gear series, the "story" of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is virtually nonexistent. A scant handful of cutscenes at the beginning and the very end are all we get. There's barely even any voice acting throughout the main game; the majority of the main characters' spoken dialogue is actually found in the optional audio tapes you collect or otherwise obtain throughout the game.
  • The King Of Fighters XIV: A Husky Russkie Boisterous Bruiser loves fighting tournaments, so he decides to hold one. Then a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere attacks after the championship battle.
  • In The Rosebud Condominium "The Boss" wants you to build the tallest tower in the world. Why? Who cares when it's just an excuse to search multiple floors for hidden objects.
  • Just Cause. Your theoretical goal of "overthrow [thinly-veiled parallel to a real-world dictator]" mostly exists to put you in a small nation and give you free rein to blow up basically everything with whichever new toys the game has seen fit to provide you with.
    Jane Douglas: That's the story, but to be honest, playing a Just Cause game for the story is like getting attached to anything destructible on the island of Medici - that is to say, a total waste of time.
  • The Simpsons: Hit & Run: The plot doesn't unfold until the end of the second hub, where it's revealed that the black vans, wasp-shaped cameras, and "new and improved" Buzz Cola are all being used by Kang and Kodos as part of a TV show where they film the antics of the people of Springfield. Then it turns out that the modified Buzz can reanimate the dead, leading to the last hub where the town faces a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • The plot of The Simpsons arcade game by Konami makes no sense, especially when you consider the continuity of the show. It begins with the titular family taking a walk in Springfield. As they walk in front of a jewelry store, Smithers rushes out of said store after stealing a diamond for Mr. Burns. He bumps into Homer, which causes the diamond he stole to fly in the air, landing in Maggie's mouth in place of her pacifier. Instead of just grabbing the diamond, Smithers abducts Maggie along with it, runs off, and the remaining Simpsons give chase to rescue her. Now, anyone familiar with The Simpsons knows that Mr. Burns is the richest man in Springfield and even though he'd love to get richer, he wouldn't send his personal assistant to orchestrate a jewelry heist all over a single diamond. And Smithers isn't so lowly that he'd agree to such theft, all while kidnapping a child. That's not even getting into the strange things that happen along the way, one of which is how they share a dream, which is the setting of Stage 6. This game's weirdness would fit right in with the Treehouse of Horror episodes, minus the horror. And most importantly, there's the fact that they were taking a walk and not driving in one of their cars!
  • Kao the Kangaroo starts off with the vague excuse of Kao escaping from his cage and then going on a quest to save his kangaroo friends, and then he's thrown into a collection of levels that rarely are connected to each other.
  • In the ten-second introduction to Cyber Chaser the Giant Robot boss sticks its claw in the middle of the road and the title character crashes his car into it, apparently making him mad enough to chase after the thing.
  • Body Blows: Some fighters are battling each other in a tournament hosted by a guy named Max (who is revealed to be a robot). The sequel, Body Blows Galactic, is even more blatant in that it is about two of those fighters from the last game challenging a bunch of aliens to prove who is the strongest in the universe. Averted by the last game, Ultimate Body Blows, due to having no plot at all.
  • Clarence's Big Chance: Averted. Though the plot isn't very deep, it doesn't just get forgotten immediately after the beginning.
  • Dragon Master: In this South Korean-made Street Fighter II knockoff, an otherworldly demonic being named Garner has kidnapped a woman and you have to fight your way through numerous opponents to confront him and rescue the woman.
  • Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is set in the kingdom of Agatha, where the evil (and vaguely communist) Mason Order are trying to overthrow the feudal order, and the loyal and brave Agatha Knights must fight to stop them and keep peace in the... Oh, whatever, just go chop some heads off!
  • Arthur's Nightmare: You're an embittered Arthur fan who dreams about having to collect Wooglesnote  in Arthur's house while avoiding its murderous residents.
  • In Akane the Kunoichi, the plot is deliberately simple (you're rescuing someone), and there's no text or speech — just a short, dialogue-free cutscene at the beginning and another at the end. The fact that Akane is in love with Goro, for example, is just communicated by a rising column of floaty heart symbols.
  • Has-Been Heroes: The two remaining heroes from the Epic Band of Heroes and a rogue are recruited by the king to take his daughters to school.
  • House of the Dead has a plot that is recycled in every game with few modifications here and there. Basically, some evil geneticist/corrupt executive wants to cull the Earth of its humans and creates a bunch of zombies to ravage a mansion/city/the world, prompting a squad of sharp-dressed agents (part of an organization whose full job description is never really elaborated on) to hunt them down. Add in hilariously bad voice acting and questionable dialogue choices and you get the feeling that the creators cobbled up a premise as hors d'oeuvre to the ACTUAL meat of the series: a fun rail shooter. Then again, when the main purpose of the series is for players to pay an average 200 yen (around $1.7 as of 2018) for a chance at the game, there's really no reason to come up with a good story.
  • Rhythm Heaven Megamix has a story that boils down to "Some creature named Tibby fell from the sky and needs to return to Heaven World". All cutscenes after that are just characters asking you to play rhythm games (that are unrelated to the problem at hand, with few exceptions) in order to restore their flow so they can open the next door. Tibby catches on pretty quickly that all problems can be solved by restoring flow.

    Visual Novels 
  • The plot of Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru is kickstarted by the death of the main character's grandfather and how the only way he will become chairman of the school is dressed in drag. Don't question how the criteria for chairman has a paradoxical clause that they must be alumni and the ethical questions that follow, all that matters is that you get a Harem disguised as Yuri.


    Web Animation 
  • Fan Film Quake the Movie: Escape from the Bastille opens with the history of the infamous Bastille of medieval Paris, revived in the distant future as a prison for alien POWs. Ultimately, however, this is not explored further and serves just as an excuse to show the warriors of Quake III: Arena fighting the Strogg from Quake II.


    Web Original 
  • The Akinator website includes the "Story of Akinator" which explains just why is a genie playing "Twenty Questions" with you—not that you need to read it.
  • Backloggery is a website dedicated to maintaining your video game backlog. It features a story about fighting a villain known as "Bak'Laag" who derives his power from unplayed video games (see the "instruction booklet" on the main page). It's utterly ignorable, apart from adding some silly flavorful messages throughout the website.
  • The Most Stupid Deaths In Super Mario 64, mostly. No explanation is given for why Mario is doing most of the things he does (except that, of course, he's getting paid $100 per death, at least in the first episode), but the story continues anyway.
  • Half in the Bag: Many episodes have some kind of plot, but they are almost always just excuses to have characters other than Mike and Jay discuss the movie in question. They usually end up getting resolved in the last minute or so in a way that leaves the status quo intact.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes never relied on anything more than very basic setups and conflicts for their stories, which went hand in hand with their fast paced slapstick comedy, which was the real meat of the cartoons entertainment. One of their directors, Chuck Jones, even explained why they did this in his biography "Chuck Amuck";
    "An idea has no worth at all without believable characters to implement it; a plot without characters is like a tennis court without players. Daffy Duck is to a Buck Rogers story what John McEnroe was to tennis. Personality. That is the key, the drum, the fife. Forget the plot. Can you remember, or care to remember, the plot of any great comedy? Chaplin? Woody Allen? The Marx Brothers?"
  • Tom and Jerry likewise rarely had anything resembling real stories, relying on wafer thin setups (i.e. Jerry is stealing a midnight snack, Jerry has Spike the Bulldog work as a bodyguard for him) and vignettes to accommodate the series fast paced slapstick and pantomime.
  • Betty Boop: Most cartoons have a very thin plot line, simply intended to showcase wild surreal gags and catchy sing and dance numbers.
  • This is how clip shows are justified on The Simpsons. For instance, Homer rents Paint Your Wagon one evening for the family, thinking it's going to be a classic Spaghetti western full of gunfights and cowboys (instead of a musical). Once the truth is uncovered, he grows irritated but Marge quickly points out that they actually quite enjoy singing and everyone's dialogue is turned melodic. The initial plot of disliking the movie is dropped and they simply start segueing into clips from previous episodes (with a home invasion subplot breaking in and out as needed).
  • Celebrity Deathmatch sometimes has these to serve as a background for fights that don't really make sense on their own, or place fights in bizarre settings.
    • "Time Travelling" has one about Johnny and Nick travelling through time to save Debbie from Napoleon, which is mostly there to justify Nick engaging in gladiatorial combat with a satyr, and Jack the Ripper trying to kill Sherlock Holmes.
    • "In The Head Of Nicky Jr." has a subplot about Nicky Jr. hearing voices in his head, which serves only to justify John Cusack and John Malkovich having a match inside a human brain.
    • All the fights of "Halloween Episode II" are organized via an Excuse Plot about the arena being attacked by zombies.
    • "37th Annual Sci-Fi Night" has a subplot involving an alien invasion, which is primarily to justify having Nick Diamond fight and kill said alien.
    • "A Celebrity Deathmatch Special Report" has a plot involving the mysterious destruction of the Deathmatch arena, which serves mainly to justify having Johnny and Nick fight Sam Donaldson, and Claire Danes against Whoopi Goldberg.
    • A 3-episode plotline involving Nick getting put in a coma after being flung from the commentator booth, serves mainly to justify a) having other commentators replacing him, and b) a fight between Elvis and Jerry Garcia in a morphine-induced hallucination, Dean Martin fight Jerry Lewis in a tape from the '50s (thus introducing the "Battles from the Vault"), and a background for the later Leonardo DiCaprio vs. Jack Nicholson fight.
    • "Celebrity Deathmatch The Motion Picture" has one involving the making of the titular movie, which primarily serves as a background for the Martin Scorsese vs. Oliver Stone and Cameron Diaz vs. Meryl Streep fights.
    • "Halloween Episode I" has one about Nicky Jr. being demonically possessed which serves mainly as a background for The Undertaker to fight a demon.
    • Other episodes, such as "Presented By Big Bull Beer", "The Missing Girl", "The Unknown Murderer", "Censoring Problems", "The Laser Pointer", "Robot Nicky", "The Prophecy", "Deathbowl 2000", "Turn on Your TV Day", "Suddenly Diamond", "Nick's Little Friend", and "Deathcon 2001", have plots designed for the purpose of setting up punchlines rather than whole fights.
    • Surprisingly averted in "Congressional Hearings", in which the only fight takes a backseat to the plot involving Ted Kennedy trying to get Deathmatch cancelled.
  • The G.I. Joe episode Once Upon A Joe blatantly lampshades its excuse plot of trying to keep the MacGuffin (explicitly named) from Cobra. The main draw is Shipwreck telling fairy tales starring Joes and Cobras to a young orphan, complete with a different, whimsical animation style.
  • The Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Ultimate Deadpool" is a full-on exercise of cramming in as much fourth wall-breaking zaniness by Deadpool as it can; like the Joe example, the MacGuffin is explicitly named as such.
  • The plot of Oh No Its An Alien Invasion is that the kids' parents have been abducted by aliens. No explanation is given as to why the aliens are only abducting adults.
  • Tangled ended with Rapunzel getting her hair cut and reverting to a brunette. Tangled: The Series undoes the ending by having Rapunzel stumble upon a strange magical stone that returns her hair back to her longer, golden form just to justify the series. And this time, the hair can't be cut through conventional means.